Explore Lesser Known Bourgogne at Domaine Chevrot & Fils

Look to the far southern tip of the Cotes de Beaune. Find Santenay and Maranges. There are village level and 1er cru wines to be made here. Map courtesy of Bourgogne-wines.com

Explore a Lesser Known Village with Domaine Chevrot & Fils
It’s difficult to think of any part of Bourgogne (Burgundy) as anything other than famous, and expensive. However, there are lesser known villages which offer beautiful wines at more reasonable prices. On my recent trip to Beaune, I made a point to spend time exploring the southern tip of the Cotes de Beaune and Cote Chalonnaise, the next segment south in the larger Bourgogne wine region.

Take a look at the hillside, and find the road running down from the top of the hill toward the right side of the photo. Santenay is on the right, and Maranges is on the left. We are looking over some of Domaine Chevrot & Fils vines and up to some of their plots on the hillside.

Meet Domaine Chevrot & Fils
My first stop was at Domaine Chevrot & Fils. I’ve had their wine in the US, thanks to Scott Paul at Caveau Selections. In addition, they are listed in the Bourgogne Wines website as welcoming visitors and farming organically. These are two traits I admire! I found both those elements to be true in my visit with Vincent, one of the two sons now running the estate.

In mid-summer, the chief job is to manage vine growth

Progress Through The Generations at Domaine Chevrot & Fils
The house and cellar were established in 1798, but it was Paul and Henriette Chevrot (grandparents of the current generation) who established the estate. In the grandfather’s time, they grew grapes and made wine, then sold the young wine to a negociant as did most growers at that time.

In 1973, control passed to the next generation, and Fernand and Catherine (parents of today’s generation) decided to take the step of bottling and selling estate labeled wine. This was a bold move at the time, and it paid off. They practiced what we now call conventional farming. It was popular at the time and still the most common approach today although all farmers are now striving to use fewer and smaller amounts of chemicals.

In 2002 older son Pablo joined the operation and in 2007, younger son Vincent also joined. As the sons took on more responsibility, they together decided to farm organically. To do so is more work as more labor is required, but they feel the results are worth it. Today, all 18 hectares are farmed organicially and about 4.5 hectares are farmed by horse to reduce soil compaction. Grapes are 100% hand harvested, and typically around 80% destemmed, with some variation based on the vintage.

Organically farmed Pinot Noir grapes growing in the July sun in Maranges.

Organically farmed Pinot Noir grapes growing in the July sun in Cheilly-les-Maranges.

Domaine Chevrot & Fils In The Vineyard – Organic*
The sons started farming organically in 2007, in 2008 they started the papers and the vineyards were certified in 2011. Then 2016 happened: hard frost in the early spring followed by cool & wet conditions encouraging high levels of mildew. Faced with a choice to save the vintage by dropping organic certification & spray (conventional) or retain certification and produce zero wine for a year. Zero. There are some long established wineries who can afford the loss of an entire vintage, but they are few. They made the hard decision to drop their certification to save what they could of the vintage (remember the frost). Otherwise, they could lose the whole farm.  So, the 2016 vintage is not certified organic. In 2017 they went right back to organic farming, will be recertified in 2019.

I appreciated the insight Vincent gave on their experience. I support organic growers, but they need to retain their business and livelihood! They made a sound decision and returned to their commitment. Bravo.

One final note. In our discussion of the upcoming 2018 harvest, Vincent explained they expect it could be early, in late August or the 1st of September. He said that early harvests are difficult because the grapes are ripening so quickly (it’s still so hot) they need to harvest everything all at once and deal with a huge load of grapes coming in all at once. When they have a late harvest, the heat and sun are so reduced, they can space things out and harvest is more organized.  Makes sense, and it was a new thought for me, cool.

Barrels at Domaine Chevrot & Fils

Approximately 10% of the barrels are new each year at Domaine Chevrot & Fils

Domaine Chevrot & Fils in The Cellar
Once the grapes are picked, they are destemmed (around 80%) and go into concrete fermenters. No sulfites are used at harvest for the reds. Native yeasts are used exclusively. Reds age in mostly old barrels (about 10% new). Racking is used, but no filtering. The red wines are finished in tank and the minimum level of sulfites are added at bottling for stability.

Tasting room in the cellar at Domaine Chevrot & Fils in Bourgogne

My favorite kind of tasting room: a corner of the cellar

Wines
Domaine Chevrot & Fils grow a variety of grapes including Aligoté, Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. They pay attention to their Aligoté to bring out it’s lean mineral character; it’s no afterthought. Their complete lineup also includes Crémant, and a variety of regional, village and 1er Cru Bourgogne wines.

Lineup of Domaine Chevrot & Fils Bourgogne wines

Identical treatment in the vineyard and cellar, you can taste the difference between the different vineyard sources.

Pinot Noir from Maranges
I enjoyed the Pinot Noirs from Domaine Chevrot & Fils. They offered generous red fruit, ripe strawberries with nice clean earthy characteristics behind. They had the mouthfeel of time in oak, without any obvious flavoring from the barrels. Lively flavors were supported by good acidity and quite firm tannins. I would be happy to lay these wines down for several years to watch their progression, but they are delicious right now! Domaine Chevrot & Fils wines are available in the US and they are affordable as Bourgogne wines go. Do a little digging and give them a try!

 

Comments
7 Responses to “Explore Lesser Known Bourgogne at Domaine Chevrot & Fils”
  1. lindaravello says:

    Great post guys. We have just bought a house in le Bourgogne, so of great interest to me.
    If you’re in the region any time look us up.

  2. rcollab says:

    Great photos! Hope to visit one day.

  3. Oooooh! The wines sound delicious and I like that you got some perspective on organic farming. This was a real-world example of a family that would have no income for the sake of a piece of paper. I guess it’s like life in general, you do the best you can at the time…

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